I have just survived a crazy few months of way too much work on my plate! What kept me going, though, between all the commitments and deadlines, were my lovely travel memories. One of the great bonuses of travelling is that you build a wonderful memory bank of experiences that you can escape to at any time. Whether you are sitting in a long boring meeting, burning the midnight oil to complete an urgent project, stuck in traffic or simply need to take a break from your everyday worries, your travel dreamworld is always on standby for a few minutes of happy escapism. My daydream go-to place for these last few weeks was the beautiful island of Santorini.
I can’t believe that it’s already a year since my visit to this amazing Greek island. Santorini (or ‘Thera’ as it was known in ancient times) is so much more than a romantic destination for couples and honeymooners. While I have to admit that this was the one place in Greece where I really wished my partner could have joined me for the gorgeous views and sunsets, it is totally possible to have an amazing time as a solo traveller, with so many interesting activities to choose from.
Santorini’s catastrophic volcanic eruption
Santorini is steeped in history and ancient mythology. Since my childhood, I have always been fascinated with this small, circular group of volcanic islands in the Aegean Sea, about 150km north of Crete. Santorini used to be the home of a very advanced and prosperous Minoan civilisation, Akrotiri, which was destroyed somewhere between 1645BC and 1500BC in a major catastrophic volcanic eruption – the so-called Minoan, Thera or Santorini eruption.
The volcano was in the centre of the island and, as a result, a big part of the land disappeared into the sea. Today the caldera (crater) of the volcano is under the water and the remaining parts of the island form a crescent around it. The main towns of Fira and Oia cling to the rugged cliffs high above, making for incredible views.
The volcanic eruption was so massive that it impacted the entire Mediterranean world with its accompanying tsunami waves and thick layers of ash which caused darkness and a drop in temperature. It is estimated that the volcanic explosion was the equivalent of 40 atomic bombs or approximately 100 times more powerful than the eruption at Pompeii! Many people believe that this ancient settlement was the lost city of Atlantis. (I like to think so too.) The volcanic disaster led to the fall of the Minoan culture, which was the dominant civilisation at the time, and has even been linked to the Biblical 10 plagues.
Visiting the prehistoric town of Akrotiri on the south side of Santorini is fascinating, especially if you can join a tour with one of the brilliant archaeologists on site. Akrotiri was a sophisticated and prosperous harbour town where ships had to dock if they wanted access to Santorini – this was an important stop on the trade route to Crete. The Minoan settlement boasted an advanced plumbing and drainage system, three-story buildings and so much more. Katerina, the archaeologist who led our tour, really made history come to life!
Spectacular beauty in Santorini
Besides the myths and history, there is, of course, the incredible natural beauty to explore in Santorini. It is so hard to summarise all that Santorini offers in one post (I could go on and on!) so I will make use of pics and descriptions to highlight some of the things that made my Santorini visit so special. Santorini is any photographer’s paradise!
Save money by booking far in advance
It is true that Santorini is not cheap – there are many people, including Greeks, who still dream of visiting this magical destination one day. Though it definitely turned out to be the most expensive part of my Greek trip, I did manage to keep costs within reason by doing extensive homework beforehand to get the best accommodation, food and sightseeing at Santorini for my limited budget. I highly recommend that you book your accommodation as early as possible. Since Santorini is also a honeymoon favourite, you can imagine how ridiculously high the prices can get. Some of the more affordable B&Bs include transport from the airport in their price, which is a fantastic bonus, as a taxi can be very expensive.
If you would like to save time and fly to Santorini from the Greek mainland, you will also have to book very far in advance as this luxury can be very expensive. A great tip is to fly in from Thessaloniki (if you happen to be in the north of Greece) – that’s what I did, and it saved me a lot of time and money. If time is not an issue for you, the alternative is to take a much more affordable, but slow, ferry from Athens, Crete or Mykonos – beware, though, that these can also book up fast.
Santorini is an absolute MUST destination that will leave you with many wonderful travel memories. Make sure you stay at least three full days, you won’t regret it!
This post is linked up on Monday Escapes and: